Best Mattress for a Back Sleeper

October 22, 2021

Best Mattress for a Back Sleeper

If you love laying on your back, you probably already know that what matters most in a mattress is how supportive and comfortable it feels. However, these aren't the only qualities to look for while shopping for the best mattress for a back sleeper. Other factors such as the mattress's material and body weight determine how best a new mattress will work for you.

Unfortunately, the sales tactics used by mattress vendors won't make it easier for you to choose the ideal mattress. Instead, you'll feel more confused, especially if you're not familiar with the structure of different mattresses, or what exactly you need to look for.

However, the good news is that you've come to the right place. This article discusses everything you need to know about the ideal mattresses for back sleepers.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Mattress for a Back Sleeper

Your back holds most of your body weight when you sleep on it. Therefore, if you're using the wrong mattress, you'll end up developing back problems and other health complications related to bad sleeping positions. In addition to comfort, here are additional factors to consider when selecting the right mattress for you.

Firmness Level

Most back sleepers prefer a firm to medium-firm mattress because of the amount of support they offer compared to a softer mattress. A firmer mattress has adequate support that provides better spine alignment to help it carry and balance the weight of the sleeper's body.

On the other hand, a softer mattress tends to sink too deep, causing the spine to give in to pressure from the body. Consequently, the back sleeper may suffer backaches, resulting in spinal misalignment.

The firmness of the mattress also correlates to the bodyweight of the sleepers. For example, heavier back sleepers would be more comfortable on a firm mattress than light back sleepers.

Most mattress companies use a scale of between 1 to 10 to describe the firmness level, with 10 being the firmest.

The ILD Level

If you aren't sure of the firmness level of the mattress judging by the scale, you can check for its Impression Load Deflection (ILD) level. Mattress manufacturers use ILD to measure the density of materials used to make a mattress and its recovery time. Typically, a mattress with a lower ILD is softer than that of a higher ILD.

ILD is measured by pressing a 12-inch disc onto the surface of the mattress until it compresses 25% of the mattress. The amount of pressure applied is what is referred to as the ILD level of the mattress.


You can determine how supportive your mattress is by how well it relieves you from pressure points, such as the joints, shoulders, hips, and neck. Support correlates with a mattress's firmness level, and is an important consideration for a back sleeper.

A good mattress should balance the legs, hips, and lower back to support the spine adequately. Additionally, the mattress should have the right level of softness where the tender parts of the body, such as the shoulders and upper side of the back, rest.

Support, therefore, is a balance between firmness and comfort, and is often highly dependent on the materials used. For example, the pocketed coils of a hybrid mattress are mainly used for support, while the layers of memory foam and other materials cater to comfort needs.

Spine Alignment

Most mattresses in the market today would work just fine for your spine alignment because of quality standards. However, some work better than others, depending on the materials used and the mattresses' design.

For example, some mattresses are designed with different sections that have different firmness levels, or contain different materials. These sections specifically target certain body parts, such as the head, back, and legs. Therefore, as a back sleeper, if you're looking for a good mattress among the sectioned ones, you'd concentrate on the design of the midsection.

Some mattresses are also designed with different layers of foam, such as latex and memory foam. These layers perform different functions, including spine alignment and back pain relief. For example, a layer of memory foam provides body-hugging comfort, while a layer of latex offers much-needed support.

Bodyweight Factor

Bodyweight is a general consideration for any mattress shopper, despite their different preferences when it comes to sleeping positions. However, back sleepers need to be keener on this factor, because their weight spreads on a larger area of the sleep surfaces. Plus, their spine carries most of their weight while they sleep on their back.

Heavier back sleepers sink too deep in a softer and less supportive mattress than a firmer, supportive one. As a result, they may end up sleeping hot, snoring, or even developing body aches and pains, especially on their back. Similarly, a firmer mattress may not be responsive enough for adequate spine alignment for a lightweight back sleeper.

Therefore, your body weight will also help you select the right firmness level that'll provide you with the best support, without compromising your comfort.

The Ideal Type of Mattress for a Back Sleeper

Realistically speaking, no specific mattress is best for a back sleeper because every sleeper has their own preferences and budget. However, given the varieties of mattresses available in the market today, it's important to consider certain qualities while shopping for the ideal one for a back sleeper.

Here are the different types of mattresses you'll find in the market, and how they work for back sleepers.

Memory Foam Mattresses

Memory foam conforms to the shape of your body while you sleep, and slowly regains its shape when you get off the mattress. Generally, memory foam mattresses are perceived to be soft and comfortable, although they also come in different firmness levels.

Memory foam usually suits any sleeper because of its pressure-relief abilities. Therefore, with the right firmness level, a memory foam mattress would also be a good choice for a back sleeper.

The only common downside of this type of mattress is that it retains the heat of a sleeper's body, making it unfavorable for hot sleepers.

Memory foam also doesn't allow free air circulation because of the closed-cell system of the foam. As a result, heavier back sleepers would feel too hot at night because they may sink too deep into the mattress, making it harder for air to circulate around the body.

Innerspring Mattresses

Innerspring mattresses have a support core made of metallic coils and layers of cushioning from different materials, including wool and cotton. The metallic coils support the sleeper, and can also help with spine alignment.

However, they also make the mattresses too bouncy, resulting in a lot of motion transfer that may be uncomfortable for a back sleeper. In addition, the layers of cushion aren't usually thick enough to contour the body, especially the lower back.

On the flip side, these traditional mattresses are often cheaper. They're also good at air circulation, helping sleepers enjoy a cool sleep all night long.

Hybrid Mattresses

A hybrid mattress combines the metallic coils from the traditional innerspring mattresses with memory or latex foams to obtain the best qualities of these materials. The result is a highly supportive and comfortable mattress suitable for any type of sleeper. Additionally, a hybrid mattress allows for sufficient air circulation, providing sleepers with a cool night's sleep.

One of the important things to consider while buying a hybrid mattress as a back sleeper is the layers' materials. For example, a layer of latex foam may be used to add more breathability and support, while a layer of foam helps with cushioning and comfort. That way, you'll be able to choose the right kind of firmness level to support your spine and your whole back as you sleep.

Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses can either be made of natural or synthetic latex, while some are made from a blend of both types of latex foams. These mattresses have a lot of sleep benefits, and have become increasingly popular in the market. Some of these benefits include adequate support and responsiveness, which is great for back sleepers.

The responsiveness of latex foam allows it to conform fairly to the shape of a sleeper's body, without sinking too much. This helps it align the spine effortlessly and offer pressure relief to other areas of the body.

Responsiveness also allows the mattress to bounce back to its original shape almost immediately, reducing motion transfer that tends to imbalance the body's weight on other mattresses.

Other advantages of latex mattresses include their breathability and durability, making them worth the investment.

Adjustable Beds

An adjustable bed lets you customize your comfort needs by adjusting the different sections of the bed to your preference using a remote control. For example, you can elevate your head, back, or legs to the most comfortable position of your choice.

Adjustable beds are perfect for people with severe back problems or mobility issues, and practically any sleeper who would love to customize their ideal comfort. However, these types of beds are often more expensive than other types of mattresses we've mentioned earlier.

Finding the best mattress for a back sleeper may not be an easy task. Sometimes, you may never know how comfortable a new mattress will feel until you sleep on it a few times. Therefore, it's advisable to take advantage of the night trial periods to determine whether your new mattress is an ideal choice for you.

Bed Accessories for Back Sleepers

You can also use some bed accessories to help in improving your comfort while lying on your back. These include:


Sleeping on a flat mattress exerts too much pressure on the spine and neck, and may lead to many complications, including a painful, stiff neck and lower back pain. As a back sleeper, a pillow can add more support to these areas as you sleep.

Pillows come in different shapes, sizes, and firmness levels, and are used to raise different parts of the body. While selecting one, you should also consider the materials they are made of, such as down, memory foam, cotton, or latex. These materials determine whether your pillow will be firm or soft, therefore influencing your comfort.

Mattress Toppers

Mattress toppers alter the firmness level of a mattress by making it feel softer or firmer. In addition, they can help you relieve pressure points on your back by properly aligning your spine to reduce the pressure exerted on it.

Sometimes, you may not need to replace your whole mattress with a new one if a mattress topper can fix the problem.

But, when shopping for a mattress topper, consider its thickness level as it significantly determines how the surface of your mattress will feel. If the topper is thin, you'll only have a slight change in cushioning, but a thicker topper would make a bigger difference in cushioning and support as well.

Adjustable Bases

Most mattresses in the market today work well with an adjustable base. This type of base lets the sleeper adjust the bed by raising the head or feet section to a comfortable angle.

An adjustable base is also a good choice for sleepers with mobility issues or chronic backaches.

Bed Wedges

Bed wedges are wedge-shaped mattresses that elevate the body to a semi-upright position to provide comfort and support to a sleeper. In addition, they help reduce pressure on the spine and neck, especially to back sleepers with mobility issues or chronic back pains.

Can Sleeping on Your Back Cause Back Pain?

Not all back pains are caused by sleeping on your back. In fact, sleeping on your back is regarded as the optimal sleeping position recommended by many health experts. However, a poor sleeping position can also result in back pain, among other related health problems.

Here are some tips for back sleepers to help them sleep better.

Ensure Your Spine is in a Neutral Position

Too much pressure on the spine can cause back pain, among other health problems. This can happen if the surface of your mattress is too stiff or too soft to contour your back, and support it. However, you can change that by using some bed accessories, such as pillows or mattress toppers.

Sleep on a Good Quality Mattress

An old worn-out mattress can't offer adequate support to your body weight, and may cause body aches and pains. Unfortunately, the only way to solve this problem is to replace the old mattress with a new one.

Consult a Doctor if You Have Back Aches

If you experience chronic back pain even after doing all you can to sleep better, consult a doctor to determine the cause of the pain. This is because back pain can be caused by other problems such as stress, bad posture, or an underlying condition.

What are the Benefits of Sleeping on Your Back?

Sleeping on your back:

  • Relieves lumbar spinal pain
  • Reduces tension headaches
  • Relieves pressure on the neck
  • Distributes bodyweight evenly on the sleep surface
  • Improves breathing, and relieves sinus build-up
  • Avoids wrinkles on the face and facial skin irritation

Can Pregnant Women Sleep on Their Back?

Pregnant women aren't advised to sleep on their backs because of the pressure the unborn child exerts on the mother's internal organs. Research also shows that sleeping on the back during the third trimester may increase the risk of stillbirth.

If you're pregnant, it's advisable to sleep on your sides to avoid damaging your organs, and putting your health and that of the baby at risk. You can also use pillows and other bed accessories to support your spine, and add more cushioning to your joints while sleeping.

Are Eco Terra Mattresses Good for Back Sleepers?

With its supportive fabric-encased coil core, the Eco Terra Hybrid Natural Latex Mattress offers the “just right” amount of support and weightlessness for optimal sleep for all types of sleepers, including back sleepers. What’s more, the Eco Terra mattress is offered in two firmness levels, medium-firm and medium. Our Medium latex mattress has an indentation load deflection (ILD) of 24-26, and our Medium-Firm latex mattress has an ILD of 29-31.

Bottom Line

Back sleepers have unique needs that only a good quality mattress can provide. Depending on your budget and other factors discussed here, you'll find it easier to select from the wide variety of mattresses available in the market today. And, if you shop online for a mattress, remember to consider the night trials provided by the vendor. That'll give you sufficient time to test out your new mattress before making the final decision. Eco Terra gives you 90 days to try out our mattress!

Patrick Gunther

Patrick is an accomplished writer. He has been in the retail mattress space for the past 13 years, and more specifically in the natural mattress niche. He blogs on the subjects of natural mattresses, sleep, health, fitness, and green living.